Christ’s own being on the Cross contained all the clashing contrarieties and scandalous fates of human existence. Life Himself was identified with death; the Light of the world was enveloped in darkness. The feet of the Man who said “I am the Way” feared to tread upon it and prayed, “If it be possible, not that way.” The Water of Life was thirsty. The Bread of Life was hungry. The divine Lawgiver was Himself unjustly outlawed. The Holy One was identified with the unholy. The Lion of Judah was crucified as a lamb. The hands that made the world and raised the dead were fixed by nails until they were rigid in death. Men’s hope of heaven descended into hell. He was deprived of all His rights, to be with us in our privation.
—Frank Lake, Clinical Theology, 116
In his book On the Incarnation, Athanasius asks what it means to speak of Christ as the Great Physician of our humanity. Christ does not heal us by standing over against us, diagnosing our sickness, prescribing medicine for us to take, and then going away, to leave us to get better by obeying his instructions—as an ordinary doctor might. No, He becomes the patient! He assumes that very humanity which is in need of redemption, and by being anointed by the Spirit in our humanity, by a life of perfect obedience, by dying and rising again for us, our humanity is healed in Him. We are not just healed “through Christ” because of the work of Christ but “in and through Christ.” 47
—James B. Torrance, “Christ in Our Place,” A Passion for Christ, 47
Mirabile mysterium declaratur hodie, innovantur naturae:
Deus homo factus est, id, quod fuit, permansit,
et quod non era, assumpsit, non commixtionem passus neque divisionem.
(A wondrous mystery is proclaimed today; all natures are renewed:
God has become human: He remained what He was,
and what He was not He became, suffering neither confusion nor division.)
—Jacob Handl (1550-1591)
Though in our sin we are rebels deserving only the censure and judgment of God, in our human state apart from sin, that human experience into which Jesus entered, we are the glory of the entire creation. We are made like Him, as like Him as any creature could be made; and we are made for Him, for fellowship with Him to all eternity. The real marvel of incarnation is not that God should become man, but that He should do so for us men and for our salvation. At the end of the day, it is not chiefly a marvel of the mind, but a marvel of the heart.
—Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ, p. 28
Yes, Christmas is a feast for children, not just because of the tree that we decorate and light, but in the much deeper sense that children alone are unsurprised that when God comes to us on earth, He comes as a child.
Article 18: The Incarnation
- So then we confess that God fulfilled the promise which He had made to the early fathers by the mouth of His holy prophets when He sent His only and eternal Son into the world at the time set by Him.
- The Son took the “form of a servant” and was made in the “likeness of man,”^33 truly assuming a real human nature, with all its weaknesses, except for sin; being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, without male participation.
- And He not only assumed human nature as far as the body is concerned but also a real human soul, in order that He might be a real human being. For since the soul had been lost as well as the body He had to assume them both to save them both together.
- Therefore we confess, against the heresy of the Anabaptists who deny that Christ assumed human flesh from His mother, that He “shared the very flesh and blood of children”;^34 that He is “fruit of the loins of David” according to the flesh;^35 “born of the seed of David” according to the flesh;^36 “fruit of the womb of the virgin Mary”;^37 “born of a woman”;^38 “the seed of David”;^39 “a shoot from the root of Jesse”;^40 “the offspring of Judah,”^41 having descended from the Jews according to the flesh; “from the seed of Abraham”—for He “assumed Abraham’s seed” and was “made like His brothers except for sin.”^42
In this way He is truly our Immanuel—that is: “God with us.”^43
^33 Phil. 2:7 ^34 Heb. 2:14 ^35 Acts 2:30 ^36 Rom. 1:3 ^37 Luke 1:42 ^38 Gal. 4:4 ^39 2 Tim. 2:8 ^40 Rom. 15:12 ^41 Heb. 7:14 ^42 Heb. 2:17; 4:15 ^43 Matt. 1:23
—from the Belgic Confession 1567, 1619)
A God, and yet a man?
A maid, and yet a mother?
Wit wonders that wit can
Conceive this, or the other.
A God, and can He die?
a dead man, can He love?
What wit can well reply?
What reason reason give?
God, truth itself, doth teach it.
Man’s wit sinks too far under
By reason’s power to reach it.
Believe, and leave to wonder!
—author unknown, “The Divine Paradox” (16th century)